Fear, Loathing and the Power of Computers

Novelist Robert Harris was recently interviewed on National Public Radio about his new book, The Fear Index. The premise of the book was inspired by the surprise—and automated—crash the financial markets took in 2010 after a series of computer-generated trades set to trigger according to certain market scenarios set off a domino-effect of frantic selling. While this kind of occurrence is rare, and the markets recovered rather, it touches on a much larger topic of concern—and fascination—to anyone who works in predictive analytics solutions, automated decision-making, event-driven architecture, or other aspects of the Big Data phenomenon that drives the way much of the world’s business is conducted today.

Harris’ novel takes the fear surrounding the financial markets, and the power of a computer run amok, and spins a fantastic thriller around it. While this is the stuff of fiction, it’s not that hard to imagine. What struck me as particularly poignant to what we do at Starview—and to automated decision processes and operational business intelligence software like that made possible with the Starview Enterprise Platform—was the power that Harris affords computers. And we’re not just talking about robots run amok in some AI-like fantasy. Artificial or not, intelligence is a powerful thing. And while it can be scary, it’s also incredibly inspiring and affirming to work in a field that is also improving businesses—and having a positive effect on not just processes, but profits—in the meantime.